Today, we begin our annual look at the most influencial, ground-breaking, or otherwise important stories of 2010. In addition to our own staff, we consulted with some industry experts including ACB Radio Main Menu's Jamie Pauls, the Blind Geek Zone's Rick Harmon and Ranger from the Ranger Station Blog to help create our list. We'll present one item every day until we reach number 1. Unlike last year, there was no cut and dry runaway story of the year, and the lists of our contributors varied widely. So let's dig right in with number 10, a major GPS setback.
When it first entered the market, Wayfinder Access was groundbreaking in many ways. It was the most portable accessible GPS solution available. It worked on a variety of mainstream Nokia phones. And well before Apple, it was one of the first examples of a mainstream company willing to incorporate features into a product to make it accessible. Wayfinder Access was priced lower than many of its competitors, and while it may have not been as feature-rich as some of the blindness-specific products, its portability and ease of use gained the program a healthy following of users.
When Vodofone acquired Wayfinder in January of 2010, the future for the product looked bleak. Soon after, it was announced that Wayfinder Access would be discontinued, and its servers shut down. Not only did this potentially leave Symbian phone users without a viable GPS solution, it sheds some light on the possible problems of cloud-based software. As more applications and programs move to an online-based interface, users will become increasingly reliant on server infrastructure and resources. Wayfinder Access was one of the first products for the visually impaired to be taken from its users, and luckily, Vodafone is issuing refunds, thanks in part to a petition signed by over 2,200 users. But this may be a trend worth watching, as more software relies on these delivery methods. Meanwhile, Code Factory has offered a bit of a saving grace by the release of OVI Maps for many of these same phone models. But the innovation and simplicity of Wayfinder Access will certainly be missed. The impact of the departure of Wayfinder Access is number 10 on this year's list. Check back for more to our countdown tomorrow.
I've tried Mobile Speak with OVI Maps on my Nokia E72 and didn't find it to be a compelling solution. It sort of works, but only a little. It'll announce your current position and you can sometimes do a basic POI search, but that's about it. Go any further into the program, like wanting to change some settings or doing advanced POI look-up, and MS goes completely silent. When I added that to the fact that MS is still unable to read the email client on these new phones, I had to stick with Talks and Loadstone for my GPS needs. We still don't have any comparable GPS for Symbian that can do what Wayfinder could, and of course Wayfinder didn't even near the Sendero products. Let Wayfinder be a lesson on what can happen when everything is done from a central entity.
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J.J. Meddaugh is an experienced technology writer and computer enthusiast. He is a graduate of Western Michigan University with a major in telecommunications management and a minor in business. When not writing for Blind Bargains, he enjoys travel, playing the keyboard, and meeting new people.